My mother is 95 years old and she is a _heavy_ user of not only Internet e-mail but also the Web. She also takes many photos; she e-mails and she prints photos; and she receives and views both still photos and videos from her family and friends.
The most important thing she ever did was switch from Windows to Mac, ten years ago when she was 85. Until that time, she had great difficulty with all aspects of computer and Internet use, DESPITE FREQUENT in-person tutoring and telephone consultation by Windows consultants. For years I had been urging her to switch to Macintosh, but she was afraid to do so. She was afraid because she had found Windows so difficult and frustrating, and she assumed that switching to an unfamiliar operating system would be impossibly difficult. Finally I bought an iMac G5; I set it up with her name, her e-mail address and password; her ISP (Comcast) user ID and password; and so on. I installed the same e-mail client (Eudora Pro) and web browser (Firefox) applications that she'd been using under Windows. I also installed Timbuktu Pro, the screen-sharing and remote-control app. that I had been using to help her with her Windows computers. Then I put the iMac back in its box and FedEx'ed it to her. (I live 400 miles away.) The next afternoon I received an e-mail message from her. I can quote it from memory: "I love this machine!" She had gotten a handyman at her retirement condo to take the iMac out of its box, set it on her desk, plug it into AC power, and plug it into the Ethernet jack of her cable modem. Mac OS X in her iMac did the rest. No consultant. No tutor.
She gave away her Windows machines and never looked back. She never needed another consultant or tutor. For years she had called me or her daughter (who worked as a Windows consultant) daily for help with her Windows machines, and had never mastered many basic tasks. Now she calls me just once or twice per month, and she does stuff that she could never learn to do with Windows. Perhaps most remarkable is that her daughter the Windows guru, seeing all this, switched to Mac herself! Now the daughter (my sister) has more Macs and bigger and faster Macs than I do. All the children of that sister, and my other siblings' families, and my wife's sister, have also switched to Mac. (My wife and my own kids already used Macs.)
Now 95 years old, my mother has poor eyesight, so she has an iMac with a 27-inch screen. Her hands are arthritic, and she uses and appreciates the standard iMac keyboard and mouse. She could not manage with an iPad. I recommend getting your 75-y.o. a 27-inch iMac, not an iPad, regardless of how cool an iPad seems to you. At age 75, your mother's eyes are bound to deteriorate.
When my mother has needed to replace her printer and to get bigger external hard-disk drives for Time-Machine backups, I've just ordered them via the Web and had them shipped to her. She needs someone to open cartons, to lift something as big as a printer, and to plug stuff into the AC power outlet behind her computer desk; but she does not need help getting the peripherals to work. With a Mac, stuff just works. You don't need to install drivers etc. Windows users don't believe me when I tell them how much easier everything is with a Mac; but they sure do believe it after they've switched to a Mac. I have seen VERY many Windows users switch to Mac; and NONE of them has ever wanted to return to Windows.
I have no professional or pecuniary interest in Windows, and I have always owned and used Windows machines as well as Macs. Right now I own and use a Dell notebook and a big fast & powerful Dell "tower" machine, in addition to two Mac notebooks. I need the Windows machines to run technical/engineering software that's not available for the Mac OS. I find it more convenient to dedicate Windows pee cees to this software, than to run Windows on my Mac. Very often I use two computers simultaneously, side by side, one Widows and one Mac. They're on the same 50-Mbps 802.11n LAN, so it's easy to exchange files between them. Half the time I use Timbuktu Pro on my MacBook Pro to run the Windows machine "remotely," sometimes from the other side of my desk.
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